Orienting Hollywood: Producing 'India' as Location


Nitin Govil (University of Southern California)

4:00-6:00, Thursday, October 9, Innis College, Room 222

Studies of international film production have often considered the importance of location shooting. Hollywood’s popular figuration underscores the importance of location in orienting the film industries. After all, the popular “-woods” suffix appended to various film industries–Bollywood, Nollywood, Kollywood, etc.–frames a kind of imagined location of practices dispersed across different places. While location can become part of a region’s creative capital, in terms of cultural policy, location can stand in for the nation, linked to imperatives that position the national within global. Since tourism ties into the auratic assumptions about location and a perceived irreproducible distinctiveness, international film producers have been drawn to location shooting; unique local geographies provide the requisite authenticity to anchor a film’s narrative. On the other hand, the transposable mutability of place–Vancouver for New York, Dubai for Mumbai, etc.–means that location is now integrated into broader policy and economic frameworks. This talk considers Hollywood’s production of place, focusing on American cinema’s real and imagined engagement with India. I am particularly interested in how geographies of production narrativize place across histories of practice. This talk describes a century of Hollywood engagement with India, from American cinema’s earliest imaginations of global expansion to the contemporary production of India as a “location-proximate” stand-in for Afghanistan and Pakistan in post-9/11 wartime cinema.




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